Wednesday, February 29

Obligatory Leap Year Post

It only seems appropriate to post something on a day occurring only once every four years. So in honor of Leap Year, I am giving you a picture of me, sitting in the wheel of a combine. Completely normal. 
And on a random, but totally related note, you should watch Leap Year (the movie) if you're feeling particulary festive. It's guaranteed cheese, but kinda cute for your inner cheesy self.
Happy leap year 2012 (whatever that means). 

Monday, February 27

It's the small things in life.

And today this blessed assurance comes in the form of STARBUCKS. My dear friend Victoria Luhrs alludes to the fact on her blog, VictoriaINKansas, that not many big city amenities exist in my town. The nearest Starbucks is a 40 minute drive east on I-70 in the metropolis of Colby, KS. I have made only two known trips east for the sole purpose of such an indulgence as Starbucks. And as my luck would have it I was recently caught by my mother-in-law on one said trip and we had a good laugh about it. At least I think she was laughing. Thank goodness for Starbucks. And thank goodness for my mother-in-law for keeping me honest.

Tuesday, February 21

Just Have Fun with It.

As I imagined, you are waiting with bated breath for the much anticipated second installment of farming implements. The one caveat I bring to this post is I am not an expert. This is written by the layman, for the layman, in layman's terms. So for those of you non-layman reading this (assuming there IS someone reading this) who know more than me, please don't shame me publicly. I did my best. And since there's no good way to get started I'll jump right in.

This handy little implement is pulled behind the tractor to inject fertilizer into the ground and is called a strip-till machine.
Strip-Till Machine (AKA: puts down fertilizer)
Because I haven't figured out how to add fancy arrows on the picture to demonstrate what I'm saying, please be patient with me as I try to explain. Do you see the spikey circles in the back? Well in front of those are round discs, and in front of those round discs are little sprayers that put the fertilizer into the ground between 7 and 9 inches. Then the spikey thing packs the dirt back down so the ground is ready for the seed. In the process / timeline of farming, fertilizer is applied first. Now that’s not to say it’s only applied one time in a crop's life cycle, but the ground should be treated first to provide nutrients for the planted seed. So, if Farmer Tim decides it needs another round of nutrients, it can be done AFTER the seed has been planted.

This silver bullet is our wheat drill, which moonlights as a total babe magnet.

Wheat Drill (AKA: Crustbuster, planter of wheat)
The drill plants the seed wheat (yes, it sounds backwards), which is typically done in the month of September or October. This is a picture of Tim, with the help of his brother, filling the drill with seed from the red truck. Assuming the tractor and drill are behaving, Tim will stop every two or three hours to reload seed. What you probably can't see are the deep compartments for the seed and HOW MUCH can fit inside. Tim and I must have been really bored are really cool because one time we did some math to figure out that he planted approximately 1,350,000,000 seeds across the entirety of the farm!!! You read that right- BILLion. It's ok to be amazed.

It's now midnight and this post took entirely way too long to write. There are a few more implement tricks up my sleeve but that will have to be for another day. Wish Tim luck because in 6 hours he will have to try and wake me up so we can go to the final day of our K-State (go CATS!!) farm management, MAST class.

Yay for learning. And remember to just have fun with it.

Saturday, February 18

Implement Interlude: So this one time, we went to Italy.

One of the (do I dare say, MANY) perks of being a farmer is the sheer amount of flexibility it provides. And while a two week vacation to Italy in the middle of summer is not common among farmers, Tim and I had been planning this rendezvous for so long that Tim's parents felt pity on us and told us they'd cover while we were gone. Summer is probably the most busy time for a farmer in Northwest Kansas. Why, you say? I thought you'd never ask. One of the main reasons is harvest. Every July, around the 4th- give or take a couple weeks, we begin wheat harvest. Depending on a whole host of factors, we will be in the field about two weeks for harvest. But in all the time leading up to this point beginning around March 1, there is lots of maintenance, field work and irrigation monitoring to be done (and there will be more on that later). So in maybe the longest way possible, I have tried to demonstrate why it is I am so grateful to Linda and Gerry for making the trip possible and allowing me to show off my tour guide skills to Tim.

And at the risk of tooting my own proverbial horn, I would like to share some highlights from our trip, planned by me- with the help of my good friend Rick Steves (AKA: International travel guru, author of lifesaving travel books, saver of money and giver of practical advice). Too much? Well I digress. We flew out of Denver because it is, in fact, the closest airport at only 2.5 hours from our home. We had one stop in Newark before flying into Milan.
Tim's really excited about the trip...and this picture.
Once in Milan, we headed straight from the airport to the train station to head out for Venice. We were in Venice for 2.5 days. But I'm embarrassed to say that once we hit the hotel room, we went right to sleep instead of waiting until evening (it's like 3 in the afternoon). But it was a blessing in disguise because we slept. And slept. And slept some more, but come morning we were up and ready to go and didn't slow down for the rest of trip.
Quintessential Venice.
And in case you were wondering, because I would, we DID go on the obligatory gondola ride. At night. I'm a hopeless romantic, what can I say.

Our next train took us to Monterosso, one the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Most of these towns are built into the mountainside, along Italy's west coast. GORGEOUS. And might I add, our favorite food. Tim's calamari was out of this world and I'm speechless when it comes to my chocolate souffle. Let's just say I'm a novice with my camera, so a dark room + a wide angle lens = no good proof. You will have to take us at our word. Or better yet- go see for yourself!!
We saw many a men. On boats. In speedos.
View from our balcony. No big deal...
Next stop- Florence. Not too much to say here except, thanks in part to Rick Steves and dumb luck, we landed in the heart of the city right next to the Duomo. The most memorable and hot part of Florence was the day we walked up to Piazzale Michaelangelo. Most people will recommend taking a bus to the top, but we're young and ventured up there on foot- normally not too difficult except we did it on a day it was 106°F. Whoops.
Said overlook. 
And in case you thought I wasn't really there.
Our next to last visit was to the medieval town of Siena. It was so quaint and charming compared to the larger cities we'd visited prior, and was an enjoyable town to stroll. And stroll we did. In addition to our aimless and joyous wandering, we took an afternoon class on Tuscan wine. The "teacher" came from a small Tuscan village, which the name escapes me at the moment, who's part of a three generation family vineyard. Did you know that if Tim and I stick with this farming gig, we'll also be a third generation farming operation? So needless to say, she knew lots and while I'm easily fooled when it comes to wine, I'm pretty sure she knew her stuff. I would also recommend you do some reading of your own about this fantastic town. This post would be even more ridiculously long if I expounded, but should you be so inclined check out the history of their Il Campo- so cool.

And finally. Rome. We spent three full days in Rome and did it all: Vatican, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, night walks across the city (again, hopeless romantic), St. Peters and the list goes on.
St. Peter's Square. 
Final thoughts:
1. Everyone should travel outside their country of origin
2. It was confirmed that pasta is my favorite food group
3. Yes, the sky was as blue as the pictures indicate. No rain. Not once.
4. Both a city girl and country boy can survive on 3 pair of underwear for 2 weeks (we did launder- c'mon!)
5. If you're still reading this, I feel that next time we meet, I should buy you a cookie! 

Thanks for indulging me.

Monday, February 13

I Think His Tractor's Sexy- at least I think it's a tractor...

1. a piece of equipment; tool or utensil: gardening implements
2. something used to achieve a purpose; agent

I have never been quite so humbled as I was am when learning about farming. I say this not to make my fellow farmer feel bad, but rather because farming for me is like learning a new language. And if you have ever attempted such a feat as learning a new language, it takes time, can be awkward and is harder the older you get- much like one's dating life.

Take for instance, farming implements. To clarify, an implement can include but is not limited to the following: tractor, combine, sprayer, grain cart, disc, sweep, drill, strip till. And unless you have spent time with our around someone who farms and uses said items, you are likely unfamiliar, don't know what they look like or the purposes they serve.  In my prior life, BF (before farming), my notice of them while driving along the interstate was minimal and when I did, the conversations I had with myself were liable to go a little something like this: 

Kat- "Look at that big thing in that field of something pulling that other thing that probably uses up a lot of gas and costs lots of money. 

Needless to say, I'm making the distinction now. Below are a couple of implements crucial to our farm operation. We do use all the items I listed above (and probably some others), but to ensure you come back for more, I will only start with a couple for today's post- riveting, I know. Tim will argue, as I just learned, that tractors and combines are not really implements. He considers an implement to be any item you attach and pull from a tractor or combine. Semantics. 

Now I realize many people know what a tractor is (or at least what it looks like) but do you know the main purpose of a tractor for our farm? We produce mostly corn and wheat and this 'lil guy helps Farmer Tim to plant the seed, lay fertilizer so our seeds grow, spray chemical so weeds don't choke the seeds out and provide inspiration for a little ditty by Kenny Chesney. 

Farmer Tim's Totally Trippin' Tractor
The combine is a little more near and dear to my heart, because assuming we do everything else correctly (and the weather cooperates- ha!), the combine is how we reap our harvest every July and October. It's used to pick the crop, and without it, we'd have no money and you'd have no food (a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). 

Combine in action during wheat harvest, Summer 2011
Stay tuned as I share more about our implement family. It's exciting. And if nothing else, you can tuck these nuggets of farm wisdom away for that company picnic this summer when you're looking for ways to impress the boss or keep the conversation going. 

Wednesday, February 8

The beginning. In (mostly) pictures.

I'm Kat.  And I'm from here.
Wichita, KS
I met Farmer Tim and he's from here.
Goodland, KS
We met at K-State.

We got married.

And lived here.
Des Moines, IA
And after three blissfully cold years in Iowa we moved here (who does that???).
Buffalo, NY
And finally, after yet another three lovely years in New York, a change was imminent. So this long story short, shows our journey to April 2011. And how we ended up here.
Goodland, KS
Now it shouldn't (hopefully) take you too long to recognize this last picture as Farmer Tim's hometown. Population 4,500. And I didn't stutter when I said we moved back here in April. Leave it to us to abandon Corporate America, in pursuit of a farm boy's dream, in a day and age when rural communities struggle to bring young people back. But in the almost-year that we've been living here, I shutter to think I might be able to admit that more people should do it. Now I won't solve ALL the world's problems in one little blog post. But through this blog I will be making my small attempt, in my own corner of the world, to make a difference; and to show that farming is cool (did I really just say that), that rural living may not be the death of me after all and that following your life's calling may be right but that doesn't mean it's easy (cause what good things in life are?). This is my account of how a city girl and a country boy do rural.